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Magnolia Pictures has acquired North American rights to the doc Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes from A&E IndieFilms at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Directed by Alexis Bloom (Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds), the doc centers on the controversial and hugely influential former chairman and CEO of Fox News. Magnolia is planning a Dec. 7 release following a fall festival run. A&E Network retains television rights to the film.
Divide and Conquer was also produced by Bloom with Will Cohen of Jigsaw Prods. A&E IndieFilms’ Molly Thompson, Elaine Frontain Bryant and Robert Sharenow executive produced the project alongside Alex Gibney and Stacey Offman of Jigsaw Prods. Dan Cogan, Jenny Raskin, Regina K. Scully and Geralyn White Dreyfous of Impact Partners and Maiken Baird also served as exec producers.
Divide and Conquer is set to have its world premiere on Sunday at TIFF. The documentary will make its U.S. premiere at the 56th Annual New York Film Festival on Oct. 3.
“Alexis Bloom’s film is a provocative and disturbing deep dive into the story of one of the most consequential political operatives in modern history,” Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles said in a statement. “We are excited to be working with our friends at A+E Networks, Jigsaw and Impact Partners on this timely and important film.”
Added Thompson: “We are thrilled to be on board with Magnolia, who have been tremendous partners to us in the past and share our passion for documentaries that ignite conversation. The legacy of Roger Ailes remains politically and socially relevant to this day, and we couldn’t imagine a better distributor to help share Alexis’ powerful project with the world.”
Divide and Conquer sheds light on the current moment in American political life by following the arc of Roger Ailes — the longtime Republican Svengali and founder of Fox News. By coaching an unrivaled stable of politicians over the course of 50 years, Ailes heavily influenced Republican politics, steering the conservative movement from Richard Nixon to the Tea Party to Donald Trump. Diagnosed with hemophilia at an early age, it took someone intimate with fear to skillfully tap into the fear of others.
With Rupert Murdoch behind him, Roger Ailes started Fox News and turned it into a money-making juggernaut, with profits exceeding those of all its rivals combined.
The deal comes on the heels of Magnolia’s huge box-office success with the Ruth Bader Ginsberg doc RBG, a film that like Divide and Conquer was financed by a TV network (in the case of RBG, CNN).
The deal for Divide and Conquer was negotiated by Magnolia’s John Von Thaden and Dori Begley. Cinetic Media repped the filmmakers.
This story also appears in The Hollywood Reporter’s Sept. 9 daily issue at the Toronto International Film Festival.
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